Saturday, September 29, 2012

Repent All Ye Sinners

Good Yontif!
For the non-Jews reading this blog that's Yiddish for Happy Holidays (and for my shiksah sister in law Keli ... that is Yittan for "nice shoes" ... don't ask!) 
This past Wednesday was the second half of the Jewish High Holidays ... Yom Kippur. It's the day that Jews get together as a group and ask for forgiveness for all the sins from the past year. The non-Jewish alternative, of course, is to go every Sunday (like my wife)  or whenever you want to go to talk about how badly you screwed up and ask for forgiveness. I understand that works just as well.

I celebrated my sins with Sammy at Menorah Manor.

There was a slight change in schedule when I arrived. Sam was still in bed.

"Dad are you going to services today?"


"I said are you going to services today?"

"What time is it?"

"It's 10:00."

"What? It's too early."

"Dad, services are at 10 o'clock."

"I know."

"Well ... let's get you dressed. There are lots of sins I have to get rid of today."

It takes pretty much an army of nurses to get him washed up and dressed. He was whisked into the bathroom, washed and dried and all I heard was him complaining about his shoes.

One of the nurses came out. "Sam says his new shoes are missing and he wants to wear them."

We looked high and low .... the room is all of 6 feet in all directions so it was a quick search. Nothing. No new shoes.

"I just bought those, "Sam bellowed. "They are expensive. How could they disappear?" (Slight exaggeration. We bought them from a catalogue he loves. They were about $20.)

I sat down on the footstool he uses to watch TV and just shook my head.

"Here they are Sam," One of the nurses said. "Your son was sitting on them."

The shoes were peeking out of the bottom of the footstool ... the only place we didn't look.

Sam rolled his chair over to me. "Joel ... why did you sit on them? Didn't you see them?"

Trick question. I wasn't gonna fall for that ... so ... we just put his shoes on and rolled him downstairs.

Services were already under way lead by Rabbi Leah. She's a ball of fire ... all 4'10" of her ... and she has really kept things hopping. Hard to not smile when she talks.

In her sermon, she mentioned that it wasn't too late to make a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. No matter what age ... you can still fulfill your Jewish heritage (usually done when you turn 13). She asked how many have recently gone through Bat Mitzvah classes with her and about three hands went up.

She told the story of one woman who apparently made her Bat Mitzvah at Menorah Manor before her 93rd birthday.

She passed away soon afterward.

There is always a lot of chatter during services. Mostly from residents that can't hear what's going on. Sammy usually is a ringleader ... socializing and hearing very little. He was pretty quiet this year ... happy to have his shoes, I guess.

I glanced over to make sure he was still awake and listening.

He was.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Home Movies: Found

More from my novel, Home Movies:

Buddy couldn't wait to open his new-found treasure.

He tried to act interested in Andi’s conversation at dinner, but all he could think about was whipping out the projector and putting the films on. She was telling him about a girlfriend who just got dumped by her boyfriend, or maybe her girlfriend, Buddy couldn't remember.

He helped clear the table as Andi washed the dishes.

“You haven’t listened to one word I’ve said, have you?” Andi put down a dish and looked in his direction.

“Sure, I did. Let’s see ... You just said that Karen was in such distress over Frank’s moodiness that she was considering a divorce but instead opted for a temporary separation followed by years of counseling leading to certain reconciliation and no doubt continued verbal abuse.”  Buddy took a deep breath.

“Yeah. I should give you some verbal abuse.”

“I love it when you talk dirty.” Buddy pulled her to him and planted a big kiss on her lips.

She smiled at him and patted his butt. “Okay. Go look at your films. I’m leaving, anyway.”

“You mean ...”

“Yes. I am going to Denise’s house ... not Karen’s ... to talk about Aldo, her son ... not Frank, her husband ... and help her find a treatment center for his psychological problems.”

“That was going to be my second guess.”

“Sure, Mr. Sensitivity.” Andi grabbed her keys and put them in her pocket. She headed for the door.

“Bye, now. Don’t wait up. “

Buddy ripped through the box of films and camera parts like a man possessed. The reels were enclosed in large, rusty canisters without labels and some were just reels without the canisters. He looked at each one, studying them, trying to imagine the owner. It was a little game he played that gave him great pleasure. This owner was a pretty active shooter, he thought, based on the volume in the box. The camera parts were pretty extensive, as well. The owner was a hobbyist much like his father, he thought, there were camera parts in here that resembled some he grew up with.

He set up the screen, opened one of the canisters and looped the film through the projector. He flipped the switch and settled into his favorite movie chair as the first trail of numbers flew by.

...8..7.....5.....3.........The frame blurs as the camera swerves and finally focuses on a little girl sitting at a table , covered with a paper tablecloth and decorated with party favors. She waves and says something to the cameraman. She points to the right as the camera turns in that direction and catches another girl who has a thousand freckles and glasses with the rims winged on the side. She also waves, a little shy wave, and smiles a slight frightened smile. The camera moves again and there is another little face smiling and this one has no sign of shyness. The hands wave wildly and the mouth opens wide...

The phone rang next to Buddy on the table. He picked up the receiver, "Hello?"

“Hi, Daddy,” Christina said on the other end of the phone.

“Who's this?”

“It's your worst nightmare."

“Oh. Hi, Chrissy."

“Are you busy?"

“Nope, just watching a movie."

...a birthday cake held by a woman with short curly hair blurs past......

“Did you get my message ?"

“I did honey. And I was sorry you couldn't make it today. "

...the candles leave a long trail of light...

“Me too. "

...they all crowd in and sing happy birthday...

“How's the car? "

...the birthday girl takes a deep breath and blows out only one candle. The rest of them stand back up defiantly. Everyone laughs hysterically as she tries one more time...ring at the image on the screen. 

“Just great. It handles well on the road.  I stopped in Tallahassee for the night. "

“You at a hotel?"

“Yes. At the Holiday Inn. The number's 555-1002 Room 234."

... from the right of the picture frame the short curly haired woman moves in close and hugs the birthday girl cheek to cheek. They both smile at the camera...

Buddy focused on the face and temporarily lost track of the conversation.

“Anyway, Dad, I'll probably get there in the morning. I'll come right to the house. "

He knew that face.

"...oh, Dad ? Earth to Dad. Did you hear what I said? "

"... Yes honey. I'll be here. I can't wait to see you. "

“I can't wait to see you either.  Dad ... There is one other thing that might catch you by surprise...I got my hair cut. It's pretty short."

... the curly haired woman motions to the camera man to give her the camera and the image in the camera blurs and swings  180 degrees...

Buddy strained to refocus on the screen as it cleared.

“Oh my God,” Buddy mumbled into the receiver.

“Well it's not that short....”

“...gotta go, honey, I'll see you tomorrow."

“ Daddy ?”

Buddy had dropped the phone and was staring at the image on the screen. It couldn't be, he thought to himself.

No, it must just be a coincidence. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Boys' Trip

This weekend was our  Boys' Trip to North Carolina ... Tom, Ray, Dewey, Big Al, Kenny, Mark and Doug.

Tom and Dewey share an incredible cabin high in the mountains on Lake Glenville outside of Cashiers and have another with Doug a few miles away. So they BRAVELY put together a weekend for our "brat pack".

Allegiant has a direct flight into Greenville.

We picked up two cars in Greenville to make the hour plus drive to Glenville. Tom drove one car and Doug drove the other (We drove with him ... big mistake).

We packed up the car, programmed the GPS and tried to get out of the parking lot. A woman stood in front of our car wagging her finger.

"What's that about?" I asked.
"I think we are in the wrong car," Ray said.

We were.

I wondered why Doug was having such a hard time getting the car started. So ... we unpacked the car ... found the correct one ... and headed out. I had to remind Doug that he was not competing for the pole position in Daytona. Sitting in the back seat ... I longed for some Tums.

Ingles (apparently, the only supermarket in North Carolina) was our first stop. We were stocking up for supplies. Okay ... I thought ... now starts the part of our trip that defines us as men. Here we will stock up on beer and red meat and crappy snacks.

Wait a minute what is this?

I stared incredulously at our grocery basket: Granola, yogurt, fat free milk, wine (WINE?), mini vanilla wafers ... where are the chips and dip ... nuts ... the hot dogs ... sausages ... beer!!! Okay ... Ray grabbed some sausages and eggs and a six pack of some designer beer.  I think that's what it was ... I grabbed a big bottle of Tums.

That's how it started.  

We pulled in to the cabin, unpacked the groceries, walked out on the back porch and felt the mountain air hit us. It was beautiful.

We now had a big decision to make ... one that we spent the next four days thinking about. Where do we eat?

Tom was in charge: Tonight it was Happ's. Local hangout and one place that was still open (in the mountains I discovered that the life span of a restaurant was about three days). It was great food. As a protest of the granola and the manly men ordering salads ... Kenny and I ordered fried chicken. Hah! We will show them. (Okay ... I couldn't finish it and got a to- go box).  That night we drew names for our bedrooms ... I got the master suite at the Lake house. I had to pay Tom $300 to pass me the right slip. (kidding ... it was only $250).

Dewey and Al joined us at the next day. They were in Atlanta on business.

Someone wanted to go to the casino on Saturday. I'm not sure who it was ... but I agreed to lead the charge. Ray, Mark, Kenny and I headed to Harrah's. The first hour was not terribly successful. Somehow they got the idea that everything I said would make them filthy rich ... would actually work. (Debbie knows that's not true). The second hour got better. As Mark and Kenny played blackjack ... Ray and I hit the slots and made about $1300.

The casino host told our group that we could go to the Diamond VIP Lounge ... if we would like to get something to eat. I told the group that we HAD to try it. VIP Lounges have cigars, steaks, booze ... follow me. This one wasn't quite up to those standards ... card tables and dip. "Pretty cool ... Joel".    

Football games, food and naps dominated the rest of the trip. Big Al's stories were sprinkled throughout. He and Dewey played for Alabama under Bear Bryant. Most of his stories had something to do with fighting, bowel movements and horse vitamins. That's all I can tell you ... 'cause Al would beat the crap out of me.

Oh ... and ...  Mark ran into a tree, Dewey ran off the road and popped a tire, I left my computer in the airport, We ate at another 23 restaurants, Al wore Alabama shirts the entire weekend, Ray convinced a flight attendant to pretend to give me a rectal exam (don't ask).

Here are some other pictures:

We took a spin around the lake. (Okay ... Mark has a kinda man crush on Dewey)

Mark earlier almost burned down the cabin when he bar-b-qued some sausage . The entire grill caught fire ... Al saved the day when he smothered the flames with his own body fluids.

Boys will be boys ... at least ONCE a year.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


We traveled to Reno this weekend to see the USF Bulls take on the Nevada Wolf Pack. The point spread was one point. For those unfamiliar with Las Vegas oddsmakers ... That means they were "banking" on a missed extra point.

Hah ... What do they know? (We thought)

Well ... we missed the extra point on our first scoring opportunity. We also missed just about every tackle in the first 15 minutes. The score was 21 - 6 before I had my first beer (and the five that followed).

Even more annoying was the announcer screaming: "That's anotherrrrrr firrrrrrstttt dowwwn for the Wolfpack .... (followed by a pre recorded wolf howl)". Worse still was the announcement that preceded our one score "Wolfpack has 21...USF has NOTHING."

Second quarter was better for us. Our guys had mounted a nice attack that garnered a few first downs and a score which prompted our small group of fans to create our own announcement: "That's anotherrrrrrr firrrrssstt dowwwwwnnn for the Bulls ... (followed by our very own creation of bulls' sounds which were more like horses on steroids)." 21-13

Second half opened. We got the ball ... Six plays later Lindsey Lamar had a quick 35 yard run to score ... 21-20 (more steroid horse bull sounds). They fumbled, we fumbled, punt, punt ... Then a score ... (wolf howls) 28-20.

Fourth quarter scared us from the start.

They stopped our drive ... ran a 14 play series ending with a field goal 31- 20 (wolf howls and we broke open a few more six packs).

2 minutes left.

We scored on a beautiful Chris Dunkley 52 yard touchdown pass and run 31-26.

We missed the two point conversion.

46 seconds left ... We had no fingernails left ... BJ Daniels connects with Andre Davis ... 31-32. 

Bulls Win!!!!! (By one point)


Here are some shots from our trip:

Athletic Director Doug Woolard was VERY tense on the trip up.

Debbie and Cherri Woolard share some insights as to how much gambling should be done in Reno.

Practice before the game. Altitude must have caused the ball to ... move.

A little "Bulls kiss" for the camera.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The School Cafeteria

Another excerpt from my book, HOME MOVIES:

“You gonna eat that, Mr. Rosen ?” Thomas Foley asked as he stuck his finger in Buddy's fat peanut butter and jelly sandwich he fixed that morning.

Buddy looked at Thomas and pushed the sandwich with the hole in the middle over to him. “I'm not too hungry. Here, you eat it."


From behind a familiar voice whispered, “Hey big boy, you wanna trade your banana for my pudding."

He looked up at Andi and said, “Nobody messes with my banana, sister. But I will  make a deal with you for my Milk Duds."

“No thanks.” Andi put her lunch down beside his and slipped next to him on the bench. “It's your banana or nothing. "

“You know how guys feel about their bananas."

“Some day I'll tell you how girls feel about boys' bananas.” Andi opened her lunch and took out her sandwich. She leaned over to look at Buddy's bag. “What else you got ?"

“Let's see." Buddy opened his bag and pulled out a bag of Fritos and a Snickers candy bar. “Healthy stuff like this."

“I see.” Andi picked up Buddy's bag and studied it. “You know, Buddy, I always wanted to ask you about this school bag."

“The R. Treader ?” Buddy called it that because the name was stenciled on the side. “I bought it at the Salvation Army for 25 cents. I love this old thing. I think it's from the 1940s.  The main reason I got it was because I wanted to meet R. Treader."


“Why? I don't know. Because I wanted to meet the guy who gave away a part of his childhood, I guess. Why did he give his school bag to the Salvation Army?  It's like the home movies I find at flea markets and garage sales. I'm always amazed that people would let them go. It's like a part of your body. You might as well sell your arm."

“So you rescued it for Mr. Treader."

“Exactly,” Buddy puffed out his chest.

“Did you ever find him ?"

“Yep.  I looked him up in the phone book.  He was living in Clearwater."

“And ..."

“And I called him up to tell him I just bought his school bag.  I asked if he remembered it."

“Did he ?"

“He sure did. In fact he had lost track of it. It seems his wife got rid of it in a box of old stuff she dumped off.” Buddy stopped to take a bite of his banana.  “I offered to give it back but he said no. He wanted me to keep it. He said that he was just happy to hear it was being used. And especially by someone concerned about protecting his memories."

“That's sweet. "

“Mmm hmm,”  Buddy looked up. “Uh oh, don't look now .... unhappy homemaker  at twelve o'clock." He was referring to the fast approaching Becky Sue Wright, third grade teacher and teller of marital affairs. Her little feet made a clicking sound on the linoleum floor of the cafeteria like a toy machine gun.

She made it to their table in a fraction of a second. “Andi. I'm so glad I saw you." Becky Sue gushed as she put her face right between Buddy's and Andi's.

“Too late.” Buddy said.

“What, Buddy?” Becky Sue asked.

“Nothing. I was just finishing a thought."

“Oh. Well anyway, Andi, you're not gonna believe what I just heard."

“Oh yeah?” Andi answered.

“I was right. George Parker is involved with Sarah Bess. And Sarah Bess... the tramp... is going through divorce number three as we speak.  And that's not all. George has been going for counseling with Bunny. Can you imagine? She doesn't have a clue that he is cheating on her.” She gestured to the far table where Sarah Bess was eating her lunch and reading a novel. “Look at her, as cool and calm as she can be while she just ruins poor Bunny's life."

“My, my,” said Buddy sarcastically as Andi kicked him under the table.

“Well now tell me, how are you lovebirds doing?"

“You mean you don't know?” Buddy leaned close to Becky Sue's ear.

“What?” Becky Sue strained to hear.

“Andi is three months pregnant with George Parker’s baby.” Andi almost  spit up her food.

“Funny.” Becky Sue said and trotted off to whisper into someone else's ear.

“Great, Buddy, now she will probably spread that rumor next.” Andi said.

“It's about time. People need to know about your baby. I'm tired of keeping that our dirty little secret. "

“You're terrible.” Andi said as she got up to throw her trash away. “I don't know what I'm going to do with you. "

“Meet me in the parking lot at 3."

Andi winked at Buddy over her shoulder as she looped her purse over her shoulder and walked out the cafeteria. Buddy watched her the whole time. He loved the way her body moved when she walked.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

RNC We Will Miss You

In case you have been in a coma the last few weeks ... you might not have heard that Tampa hosted the Republican National Convention. As you may or may not know, this blog is not political. I really try to steer clear of partisan, non- partisan, bi-partisan, multi-partisan, three way, trans- partisan ... oh heck ... any partisan.

But I couldn't pass up some of the sights around Tampa during the Convention ... some you may have seen or heard about and some maybe not.

Everyone saw and heard Clint talk to the chair.

I thought he did a great job of winning that debate. His opponent had very little to say.

Celebrities love to copy each other.

Chris Matthews copied Clint.

Apparently, some of the diners at a local restaurant in Tampa didn't like him or his hair ... so Chris called them all "douche bags"(true story).

A fan favorite was the group of women who protested women's rights wearing "lady parts" as an unnamed source in my office called them.

This same source told me they when walked down her street, one of the lady parts fell and couldn't get up.

It's like .... nah ... too easy.

The local business community really got on board.

One establishment even hired Sarah Palin to grace their stage ... wait a minute ... that's not Sarah Palin ... she would never be seen with a gun in public.

Maine delegates that voted for Ron Paul were snubbed and sent to the rafters. They were not happy ... is that a clothespin with a lobster on it?

Florida delegates missed some of the opening session when their bus driver got lost, went around the block a few times and finally called 1800 Ask Gary for directions. 

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...